All the deliciously spicy flavors of the Chinese doubanjiang chili bean paste in a chicken noodle soup. Spicy food-lovers will get a kick out of this!
Things have been awfully quiet around here at the beginning of this year, and I apologize for that. As much as I want to blog more, my schedule has been rather packed with other things lately, and consequently I am too tired during my free time to get into the kitchen. So that one time I do manage to sneak in an easy recipe, I decided to make this Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup. For the soul you know?
I made a promise a couple of years ago that I would post more about cooking rather than baking, and it’s pretty obvious I haven’t been good on that promise. On a more positive note, it’s nice that at least I know I want to focus on learning about Asian cooking first. I want to explore as many Asian recipes as I can, and I feel like that’s a great way for me to have a deeper connection with this continent I am proud to belong to. Asian food and culture is amazing.
In my mission to learn about the Asian kitchen, I stumbled upon what is now one of my favorite websites of all time called Omnivore’s Cookbook. I’m quite sure most of you have heard of it. The collection of mostly-Chinese recipes here is mind-blowing, and the photographs are all mouthwatering. I’ve been having a blast scrolling through and just getting inspired. I have also been learning more about Chinese cooking and Chinese ingredients through this site. Even though I am of Chinese descent, I don’t possess even a fraction of the knowledge that Maggie from Omnivore’s Cookbook has about Chinese cooking. Reading her blog is such a pleasure because not only does she know what she’s talking about, you can also feel her passion with every recipe she shares.
The first new-to-me ingredient that caught my eye here is the Sichuan staple doubanjiang. (I don’t agree with how Lee Kum Kee wrote the English reading of those Chinese words so I am writing it differently.) Even though I love spicy food, it’s a shame I haven’t had that many opportunities to eat Sichuan cuisine so I’m not too familiar with it. It’s never too late to rectify this though. 🤤
Doubanjiang or 豆瓣醬 or chili bean paste is made using fermented soybeans mixed with spices. This bottled brand is the most easily accessible here in Manila but I think other doubanjiang is thicker or more paste-like than this one. Although the doubanjiang also comes in original, I loved using the spicy one, or the 辣豆瓣醬. It feels a bit more Szechuan, plus I just really like spicy things.
I actually did not spot the non-spicy variety of doubanjiang in the supermarket but as far as I could see there’s only the Lee Kum Kee brand on the shelves. However the brand that is recommended at Omnivore’s Cookbook is actually the Pi Xian brand. I’ll keep an eye out for that one. On its own, the doubanjiang has a strong salty, savory, spicy taste. Sometimes people eat this simply stir-fried in oil then added to rice or noodles.
To try out this condiment for the first time, I decided to make this Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup, also from Omnivore’s Cookbook, just to get a good feel of what effect it has on dishes. This recipe is so easy I decided to double it. My only regret is not using chicken stock for the broth base, so I’ve rectified that in the way I wrote the recipe below. Water will make the doubanjiang flavor shine, but your Chicken Noodle Soup will have more heat and less of that umami flavor.
Also, try to marinade your chicken for a longer time. Oh, and do use Chinese noodles rather than spaghettini haha! I thought we had some in the pantry but it turns out this was all we had. The spaghettini gave a mismatched texture to the visually Asian dish, but I still enjoyed this in the end.
Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup
For the Chicken Marinade
- 3 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh, about 700 grams in total*
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Stew
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 whole star anise
- 3 to 4 tablespoons doubanjiang chili bean paste, depending on how spicy you like it
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup water
- Radish, carrots, and baby bok choy, chopped to a size you prefer (you may also use other veggies if you like)
- About 200 grams of noodles, more or less
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Sliced green onions, for garnish
Marinade the chicken
- 1. In a small bowl, mix together ginger, garlic, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt and pepper. Add to the bowl or the ziplock bag where your chicken is waiting to be marinated. Mix the marinade and the chicken well and marinate for at least one hour or overnight.
Make the stew
- 2. Prepare your veggies. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until warm. Add the star anise, doubanjiang, and nutmeg. Give it a little stir to mix, then turn the heat down to medium low. Stir-fry the flavorings for about 1 minute. Add the marinated chicken and mix to coat both sides with the sauce. Allow chicken to cook, flipping occasionally, until both sides are golden brown. Don't forget to also stir the sauce underneath to prevent burning.
- 3. Once the chicken has browned, add in the water, plus the radish and carrots. Return to medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat back down to medium, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and give everything a good mix just to make sure the veggies are also cooked evenly. Cover again and allow to cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the meatiest part of the chicken is soft when poked with a fork and its juice runs clean.
- 4. While the stew is simmering, bring chicken stock to a boil in another big pot. Cook your noodles according to package instructions. During the last stages of cooking the noodles, place the bok choy into the water to let it cook for a few minutes.
Serve the noodle soup
- 5. Once everything is ready, divide the cooked noodles into your serving bowls. Add the chicken stock into the bowls with the noodles, then divide the spicy sauce from the chicken stew among the bowls. Top with chicken, radish, carrot, and bok choy. Garnish with green onions. Depending on how much noodles you decided to cook, this dish can be served as a main or as an accompaniment to your meal.